MODESTO — Stanislaus County health officials are trying to prevent the spread of the tuberculosis bacteria after a Modesto high school student was found to have the disease.
The discovery of a case of tuberculosis at Grace Davis High School was unsettling — but not totally unexpected.
The TB bacteria takes hold in the lungs and is usually spread in confined spaces where there are a lot of people. Typically, transmission of the bacteria happens among family members, close friends and people with sustained close contact, like in classrooms.
The TB bug spreads through the air in droplets, usually from infected people who cough, talk or even sing.
The Modesto student was in medical care Tuesday and there is no longer any danger of exposing anyone else to the disease. Still, public health officials are testing students or staff members who may have shared a classroom with that student.
“We can identify them and then get them into treatment,” said Stanislaus County Health Officer Dr. Julie Vaishampayan.
The tests involve both drawing blood and a skin test.
Not everyone who is infected by the disease will exhibit active symptoms because their immune systems wall off the bacteria and thus, they cannot spread the disease. Still, health officials want those people to be identified and treated so that they can’t develop active and contagious TB later on.
“You age and you get diabetes, you get cancer, your immune system gets stressed and then the TB can grow and you can get ill,” Dr. Vaishampayan.
The good news is that school has not been in session long, which has reduced the chance of spreading the disease. That bodes well for residents in the county.
“As long as we do the testing and treatment for anyone we find who tests positive then, yes, I would feel very confident that this would end here,” Vaishampayan told FOX40.
And with the introduction of new medicines, treatment that used to take nine months now only takes several weeks.
A parents meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday evening at Grace Davis High School to answer any questions they might have regarding TB and the course of action public health officers will take.